Starbucks CEO on employee racial bias: "We need to fix it"

The coffee chain will shut down 8,000 US stores on May 29 for an afternoon of employee racial bias training.

Starbucks Coffee Company has announced it would be closing over 8,000 company-owned stores across the US on the afternoon of May 29 to educated employees on racial bias.

It said in an official statement that the “racial-bias education” is “geared toward preventing discrimination” in its stores. The training will be provided to nearly 175,000 workers across the country, and will become part of the onboarding process for new partners thereafter.

The company added that partners will go through a training programme designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.

The decision to launch this curriculum comes after the wrongful arrest of two black men at a Starbucks store late last week. CEO Kevin Johnson addressed the issue in a video message that accompanied the announcement.

“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” he said.

“While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias.

Earlier this week, Starbucks said it began a review of its training and practices to make important reforms where necessary to ensure all its store practices were in line with its mission and values of being humane and inclusive.

The company also said that once completed, it will make the education materials available to other companies, including its licensee partners, for use with their employees and leadership.

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